George Graham

No, John McCain! I Am Not Joe the Plumber!

I am insulted – make that angered – by John McCain’s condescending assumption that Joe the Plumber represents the American middle class. “You are all Joe the Plumber,” McCain told a cheering crowd recently. Just because we don’t have seven houses, a beer-baroness wife worth tens of millions of dollars, and a bunch of shady multimillionaires as drinking and gambling buddies, he lumps us all together as a bunch of bucolic dimwits.

I would like John McCain to know that Samuel J. Wurzenbacher (“Joe the Plumber” to McCain) doesn’t speak for me, and I hope he doesn’t speak for you, either. This hulking blockhead is less intelligent than an egg and has the personality of an earthworm. He is selfish, conceited and arrogant – the kind of “Ugly American” that I had hoped was extinct.

What’s worse, he is a total fraud. Wurzenbacher is a “plumber” without a plumbing license, and could not really be planning to buy a business where he would net $250,000 a year, as he professes. To do that, he would have to come up with about $1 million, and he doesn’t make that kind of money. From what I’ve read, he makes about forty grand a year and hasn’t saved much. In fact he even owes back taxes. Furthermore, the business he works for nets about $100,000 a year and would not pay higher taxes under Barack Obama’s proposals. In fact, the company would qualify for tax breaks.

joeWurzenbacher isn’t crazy about the plumbing trade, either. It took him about five seconds after hearing McCain misidentify him as Joe Wurzenburger in the last presidential debate to decide that what he really wanted to do was open a hamburger joint with that name. Within minutes, he had called his boss and resigned, effective immediately. “The funny thing,” Wurzenbacher said, “is that I quit my job before the end of the debate, so the last few times the candidates mentioned ‘Joe the Plumber,’ I had to chuckle because I wasn’t even a plumber anymore.”

Since that time, he has hired an agent to peddle a book and another to launch him on a country music career. Recently, McCain promised to take him to Washington in some kind of advisory capacity. That says a lot about John McCain. For one thing, it reveals the disdain the Republican candidate harbors for people like you and me. To this pampered son and grandson of admirals, we’re all just a bunch of knuckleheads whose views are represented by a Neanderthal like Joe the non-plumber.

What are those views?¬†Wurzenbacher is totally opposed to having well-off Americans help the less fortunate and inveighs against the graduated income tax, which has been the law of the land since 1913. He hates the idea of programs such as Social Security, Medicare, universal health insurance and early childhood education. And he is indignant that “his country” should ever be asked to apologize for anything.

Well this is my country, too, and there’s a bunch of stuff I would like to apologize for. The killing and maiming of millions of innocent civilians in the pointless and unjustifiable Iraq War, for starters. And the gluttonous consumption of the bulk of the world’s resources while millions starve and die of disease in Africa and other Third World nations. Oh, did I mention slavery? Jim Crow? The Ku Klux Klan? “Strange Fruit” hanging from trees in the Deep South? The Bridge at Selma? School segregation? What about the extermination of the Native Americans and seizure of their lands? Would you apologize for that? Do you wish to discuss the annexation of California and Texas and the real reasons for the Mexican-American War? Or would you rather just keep the history books closed?

No. I am not un-American. And I do live in the real America. Where I live, we have the right to dissent, and it is considered patriotic to offer constructive criticism to the nabobs who run the country. Make no mistake, there is a lot that is admirable in America, and that is why I decided to become an American. Among the real America’s admirable characteristics are freedom of speech and protection of the individual from mob rule. So I am not intimidated by the screaming mobs that shout threats in response to Sarah Palin’s incendiary diatribes, and I will not be dismissed as just another one of McCain’s Joe-the-Plumbers.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for